SAN ANTONIO – Port San Antonio has made the shortlist for the U.S. Space Command headquarters, but it faces some stiff competition.
It’s one of six locations around the country being considered, including Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., which the Air Force said in a news release “will remain the provisional location...until a permanent location is selected and facilities are ready to support the mission.”
Peterson is one of four bases in three states where Space Command, temporarily headquartered in Colorado Springs, has personnel and functions.
“Here’s what I have heard, through my contacts, is that possession is nine-tenths of the law, and Colorado Springs - it’s theirs to lose. I mean, that’s what I have heard,” said Juan Ayala, San Antonio’s director of military and veteran affairs and a retired Marine major general. “Of course, I don’t believe it, but again, I’m the eternal optimist here.”
Ayala and the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation Chief Development Officer Tom Long have served as points of contact for the application process. Long believes Colorado Springs is the location to beat.
“If there is a number one choice, it’s probably where they are now - just staying there. But we’re going to do all we can to get them to move out of there and to relocate the headquarters permanently into San Antonio,” Long said.
Still, San Antonio leaders believe Military City, U.S.A. has a chance, with Mayor Ron Nirenberg describing the city as “a formidable challenger.”
“We are a growing urban community, but also with real estate, land, affordability, strong, reliable, redundant energy systems, and water availability - the kinds of strengths and fundamentals that are required to grow an industry, but, in particular, grow one that relies so heavily on inside and outside of the wire cooperation and collaboration,” Nirenberg said.
Nirenberg even made his case in-person during an October visit to the Pentagon.
“I wanted us to have a very clear presence that we are serious and that we are capable and that we are going to make this a success, if given the opportunity,” he said.
The four other finalists - outside of San Antonio and Colorado Springs - are Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.; Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.; and Redstone Army Airfield, Ala..
The Air Force says it will conduct virtual and on-site visits to each location. It expects to select a preferred location in early 2021.